Saturday, July 19, 2008



SHINY 14, 2008, edited by Michael Friedman

SHINY continues to delight. A well edited journal adds a mixture of new names and new content with a constant addition of familiar characters who continue growing and expanding upon previously covered ground. The idea being to bring together an eclectic company engaged in constantly renewable dialogue and Michael Friedman delivers again and again.

Not necessarily every poem or line may ring true, but the metal of inspiration is consistently tested throughout a significant portion. Tested and celebrated. The delight outshines any disappointment.

Among the strongest of the (apparently) new eclectics being touted here is Aaron Simon.

The sky already filled with light
That’s all for today
Blood pounding the temples

A wilderness of mirrors
Washed up on the shore
Like a history prior to nervous shock

Don’t get up
They’re going to seal off the scene
Be prepared for endless paperwork

Discharged without a sound
Around the night-watch with its tattered nocturne
Leaving little to be desired of sleep

We’ll pitch camp here
Over partial remains
A city-state of perennial sweets

To introduce the moon at a glance
To circumscribe fear
Within a headdress

This is a case where the absence of author bios in Shiny stands out. Simon looks promising as a substantial handle and it would be beneficial to have some info on where to locate further work by him. His poems resoundingly stand out in this issue of SHINY.

John Godfrey opens the issue and it serves as a healthy reminder that a new collection of poems, City of Corners, is due out this August from Wave Books and will no doubt be making an impression.

I forsake your lips
to get in on the action
Then you are gone
and I get along

Direction all I need
I catch myself in time
Angles all discordant
No way through the wall

I take what I need
Between me and nothing
stands what I want
When that’s enough I know

Will you know me
First at twenty feet
You pass like water
I can always call your star

Remove the entire last stanza and this is a perfect poem. Every note is paced to hit. It’s natural speech at its best. Taking you to that comfortable realm of between knowing what’s being said and not quite recognizing what’s happening and then just leaving you there, marvelous but for those final four lines. Every poet sometimes gets sentimental in the work and leaves in what should be discarded, Godfrey is to be faulted but he’s still pure gold, a worker under typical radar.

Forward looking beyond belief, the collaborations of Ted Greenwald and Kit Robinson jump alive on the page as the tingling starts.
Down Own

In the English manner
Is there a lesson, any, in North America
Classic lines regular meter
Never mind them, don’t I never
But then again, again, I don’t ever
It’s a dream Dream of interpretation
Dinner in, poetry out
Two-tone towns ago
Like (like) a picture tube
Been asking for
What you forget
Ask the night before
The way a watch is set oh, night before
A variety of other mohairs

Now, don’t go seeing this as just another couple of poets writing again about the habit of writing through the poem-habit. Sure, there’s some fun being had and possibly it’s at the reader’s expense but that certainly doesn’t put it out of reach or turn away further possibilities.
Toy Sart

Taken for a right
Okay, nice pix, talk tonight
When you let it ride
So-so see you, quoted in a history of today
Another grapefruit day
Run out of difference e’re last night
Twilight baffled investigators
Hope all’s well with you in
The Americano raises
Another phone call Another raises
Fold in a crowd
Your eggs, how you like ‘em, now?
Adult audience neglects a duple bind
Who wants to no-no?

These collabs are knock-out sound spectacles and Friedman serves up a full fourteen count. Well deserving of chapbook publication, here’s to hoping there are more yet-to-be-published. This presentation of them is a terrific follow up to Greenwald’s recent interview in the Poetry Project Newsletter (Dec ‘07/Jan ’08:

Brotherly in spirit to Greenwald and Robinson’s collabs, Clark Coolidge throws down a further few new ones here as well, continuing to demonstrate that if you give him a place to write and an active cable subscription he’ll astound you time and again. Who cares if the references are often to whatever film might be playing on the television. He’s telling a larger tale, drawing in a world and not merely amusing himself with cultural riffs.

Now what’s crawling up Bette Davis’s torso
those people down there             sit down to the bleeder
rust colored vane kind of thing             an ancient coughing
throttling lessons in the kitchen one day
one night a topspin applied to anything loose
someone physical as Harpo             a mad blond trigger
then these masses as described on the phone
a latch to any future             pathetic voice trap
pluck and hedge from the waist             oh hell
a lumbertruck             boundary threat in jet
a pall over the wallpaper road post dispatch
a morning put to shame             in sure and certain hope
glistens in the sun spot             call the poet and
get your bottle back             I have told you
and told you and even that is part
of the carbon wing of this tale


Coolidge is expanding the case to be made for the future of the narrative. Bring it all in and manage it by sound. Punctuate the tale with the pings of the passing truck outside the window.

Elizabeth Robinson’s presence in a journal is always a welcome sight. Her poems often have a stand alone quality that holds up well. It’s a unique lyric gift. Assumptive with an inviting delicacy that doesn’t overwhelm, there’s a hint of daring the reader to not find value, as if the reader mattered at all. [Editor's Note: the poem below would be presented as quad-centered on the page.]

on this

so as to amuse
the truth

while it peruses
the leash
that procures

or arouses it.

the liar says,
I exscind,
I test my disappearance

on this perfect score.

Robinson closes the poem, there is not a testing of possibility or that anything left lingering goes unsaid. There is no doing without her.

SHINY is terrific at bringing out the unexpected bits of writing from its contributors. This issue includes Eileen Myles’ “Rene” a memoir piece composed of diverse encounters with poet Rene Ricard. What’s delightful about such an accounting is how likely it is (hopefully!) to leave the reader wanting to read more Eileen Myles and also more Rene Ricard, who usually is less well known. (A great companion piece to this is Geoffrey Young’s short account of bumping into Ricard at a poetry reading in Young’s new collection The Riot Act, Bootstrap 2008.) Myles certainly knows how to grab attention, admire the subject a bit, then present a surprising twist that dangles a bit of carrot. Consider her opening,
Rene Ricard walked up to me one night at a reading. He wore a baseball jacket and jeans with the cuffs rolled and white crew socks gleaming over his penny loafers. He was kind of a pretty fag, but tough. Later I heard he broke a glass in someone’s face at One U.

This may sound like a bad scene from an eighties film, but there’s something to Myles’ style that gives the reader reason to trust that anything she’s interested enough to be writing about is worth reading. She goes on to drop glimmering hints for the uninitiated: “Rene was famous.” “When Rene got up [to read] he commanded the doors be closed and no one was to enter now. We were trapped.” “Robert Creeley remarked at a reading at St. Mark’s that he could recall a time when Rene was one half of the demi-monde of Newport, Rhode Island. Everyone laughed. My head was spinning.” Not that this really clears anything up. The confused reader is likely still confused, probably more so. The advance of Myles’ prose is often anything but linear. There is an ordering but it is based upon Eileen’s order. It reads much like her poems, with stops and jumps and returns. When read closely you get a bit of everything.
He lived in this apartment until much later, till the late eighties the dawn of crack. I just never thought of him as a drunk or an addict. He just seemed from another moment. Holding a glass. I didn’t understand his poetry as good. He had a Tiffany blue book that Dia published. Look at my book he said. I was jealous. They supported him for god’s sake. He wrote about boys and in one poem they were all in a painting of Caravaggio’s and the last line was “they pile.” Like experiences don’t end. They pile up. I didn’t understand why that was so important.

With Myles, you learn about her alongside learning about the subject at hand, after all what is being seen is being seen through her experience. It’s quite fair and an open reader becomes aware how what they’re reading filtered through Myles is in turn being filtered through them. This may be made into a game where the reader can see just how much they’re able to filter to keep up with her. Just how much of the world as she has known it is possibly digestible by them. And she is excellent, adding a bit about secondary characters around her main subject and letting that assist in developing the portrait, while also providing commentary on them as well.
I remember when Rene would ring the bell and come up to Ted and Alice’s house—that was my favorite feeling in the world. To be already inside and see who came in. Rene was one of my favorite people and they liked him too. If you saw him in the street you would stop for an hour. You’d go get a coffee. He would decide you should go to this opening or bar with him. He was in my house and their house, Berrigan, Schnabel, Myles. He was a carrier. I’d see Ted standing in the street talking to Kathy Acker. Ted was a carrier too. He could be carrying drugs, or a bit of gossip. He could be walking down the street with books to sell. Kathy would get all bright and look like a little girl. Ted was carrying her childhood; the story of Kathy when she first came to town or the time she came to Iowa with some man she was dating and Ted was nice which he always was. You would see each person through the other person’s eyes. She just needed to be seen as young, or nice or new. He needed to be a member of somebody, everybody’s families.

Myles’ writing shows these poets seeing each other. She provides the opportunity to gain a sense of how the world was for them during a certain period in their lives together. As Myles says, “We were carrying the message, day and night for about ten years. That’s about as long as you get.”

Another excellent inclusion in this issue is Lisa Jarnot.

For Thomas

From the five good emperors
I have learned that there were five good emperors,

From the lemon tree I’ve planted now I know that leaves unpummeled
yet will drop,

From the clock, the time, it’s five P.M.,
from the sun the length of the day,

From quercus borealis, the queer names of the leaves
of all the trees,

From burning I’ve learned burning,
from the aster family chickory abounds,

From hawkweed of the colors bright,
from sleeping, of my dreams,

From mosquitoes, scratching, from fishes, fishing,
from turkeys how to run and how to hop,

From erect perennials I’ve learned how to reach the shelf,
from my cats to lick the dark part of the tin,

From the sparrow I’ve learned this and that,
from Germanic tribes, to gather thoughts in herds,

From the window blinds, yet nothing learned,
from the heart a brimming record braised and turned.

Jarnot is musing upon such Meditations of Roman Aurelius as, “Adapt yourself to the things among which your lot has been cast and love sincerely the fellow creatures with whom destiny has ordained that you shall live.” As Aurelius would surely agree, to “adapt” to the things around you must surely include that you “learn” from them. Jarnot brings just the right amount of mellow twinge to humorously lighten the load.

For the best of the rest (including: Stephen Rodefer, Jennifer Moxley, Laird Hunt, and many others) go and buy yourself a copy of SHINY 14. You’ll find yourself picking it up again and again.


Patrick James Dunagan lives in San Francisco and works at the library of USF. Poems recently appeared in Cannibal, Morning Train, and One Less Magazine. At present, working on a collaborative collection of re-writing each other's re-writes of other people's poems with Micah Ballard. Lots of walking and talking.

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